Area of Law: Cannabis Law
Answer # 2426
Municipal authority over cannabis salesRegion: Ontario Answer # 2426
Each province and territory is responsible for developing, implementing, maintaining and enforcing the rules and guidelines for the distribution and sale of cannabis in their jurisdiction. However, municipalities may also share responsibility with their province and/or the Federal Government.
According to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), municipalities can enact new bylaws and processes for local police and other departments regarding the legalization of cannabis. However, each province gives its municipalities different responsibilities. These could include:
- land zoning,
- retail locations,
- business licensing,
- public consumption, and
- responding to nuisance complaints.
Many municipalities consulted residents and other business owners when deciding whether to allow for retail locations. Factors taken into consideration when deciding include the impact opening a retail cannabis store would have on public safety and health, infrastructure and other public services such as emergency and health services. In addition, the municipalities considered the added revenue that would be generated from the operation of cannabis retail stores.
In Ontario, retailers must apply to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) for a licence to sell cannabis. Municipalities have no direct control over who gets a licence, however, they do have some control over whether they will allow a licensed retailer to open up a location in their cities or townships.
Municipalities had until January 22, 2019 to decide if they will allow cannabis shops in their communities. While they can choose not to, they can opt to allow them at a later time. However, once a store is allowed, the municipality cannot opt out at a later date. As of the January 22nd deadline, 77 out of 414 Ontario municipalities opted out of allowing cannabis retail locations in their jurisdiction. However, more recently, the Ontario Government has overridden some of the decisions made by the municipality and have allowed cannabis retail stores.
Once the municipality has opted in to allow retail locations, it cannot determine exactly where the store is to be located. Retail store locations are decided by the AGCO. In addition, there are other provincial regulations concerning where a store is, and is not allowed, for example, it must be at least 150 metres away from schools.
For a current list of licensed cannabis retail stores and locations in Ontario, visit the AGCO website.
For legal advice and assistance with a cannabis related matter, contact our preferred cannabis law expert, Harrison Jordan Law .
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